I understand what you’re saying, white dudebros. I really do. Because, despite all the anti-racism, anti-sexism, social justice-y stuff I do, deep down I’m still one of you. I’m a straight, white, middle-class, cisgender American male who grew up listening to George Carlin records and watching South Park (I even, quelle horreur, flirted with libertarianism for a bit).
So yeah, being told that we can’t say this one word sucks. And I know you’re totally not racist, but… there’s this really great joke that you want to share and it uses that word, but it’s fine because the point of the joke isn’t to make fun of black folks, it’s actually a biting piece of social commentary that points out the absurdity and ignorance of racism… etc. etc. etc.
I get it. I understand where you’re coming from. And yes, I agree that absolute freedom of speech is an admirable ideal. I also agree with you that words only have the power we give them. The problem is that over the past 400 or so years, we’ve given that word a whole lot of power. Dudes like us used to say that word all the time. And not just because they were singing along to Watch the Throne or quoting a Sarah Silverman bit.
Because of dudes like us, that word can hurt people more than pretty much any other word in the English language (sidenote: if you’re wondering about some of those other words- for women, LGBT people, Asians, Jews, and so on- you probably shouldn’t say those either). It’s dehumanizing. It’s mean. It conjures up the ghosts of America’s ugly past and exacerbates problems today. Just don’t say it. End of discussion.
Oh man, that’s hard to hear, isn’t it? It’s just a word, after all, and now you’re just dying to say it. But before you do, think for a moment about why it is that you’re angry. It’s because someone has told you that there is this one thing you’re not allowed to do because you’re white. It’s almost like there’s this distinction being made between you and everyone else just because of the color of your skin and you’re being treated like a second class citizen. Unfair, bro!
You’re right, bro. It is unfair. Now, imagine that instead of this being about whether you can say that one little word, we’re debating whether you’re allowed to attend the school you want, or whether you can marry the person you want, or whether you have to right to vote, or whether you’re a “real” person or just a piece of property.
That’s white privilege son. Because we’re so used to being able to do whatever we want, this one little restriction really bothers us. But it the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. It’s literally the least we can do for how severely we fucked things up in the past. Even today, marginalized people from all walks of life deal with much worse on a daily basis. So just suck it up and start working to create a truly just society. Maybe someday in the future, our sons and daughters will be able to say that word again. Until then, quit whining and STFU.
One last thing… Let’s be honest here for a second, do you really think white people aren’t allowed to use the N-word? Honky, please. You know as well as I do that white people say it all the time, with little to no repercussions. What you’re angry about is that now people are starting to call us out on it.